Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Christian Student Group Gets Preliminary Injunction Because of Selective Enforcement

In Business Leaders in Christ v. University of Iowa, (SD IA, Jan. 23, 2018), an Iowa federal district court issued a preliminary injunction requiring the University of Iowa to restore for 90 days the registered student organization status of Business Leaders in Christ.  The University revoked the group's registration for failure to comply with the University's Human Rights Policy.  The organization required that executive officers agree to live by Biblical principles. The University found that this would disqualify individuals from leadership positions based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The court concluded that the University's policy, as written, does not violate plaintiffs' free expression rights. However, the court found that as applied the policy is not viewpoint neutral and thus violates plaintiff's rights. Relying particularly on apparent non-enforcement against a Shia Muslim student organization, the court concluded that "on the current record ... BLinC has shown that the University does not consistently and equally apply its Human Rights Policy." The court said that after the expiration of the preliminary injunction, the University may prevent further injunctions by showing a change to its enforcement of its Policy. Cedar Rapids Gazette reports on the decision. Becket's case page has further background.